I have a passion for California poppies. When my dad drove our whole family across the continent from New Jersey to California in 1959, our point of entry into the state was at Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that proved so daunting to the Donner Party in the snowy Winter of 1846-47.
The month we arrived, however, was June, the beginning of Summer. Besides the deep blues of the lake, the colors that struck me were those bright oranges of the state flower, the Eschscholzia californica, or California poppy, with its delicate bluish-green foliage. This hardy little wildflower blooms everywhere all over the state from April through August, although not in areas where it gets below 20º F at night. I've been enamored of it ever since. It grows in unlikely places. It volunteers in freeway divider strips and vacant patches of dirt as well as covering acres. Wherever and whenever I see their bright orange faces, my day is lightened and I have to smile -- and I don't even much like orange.
I have a few tattooes in strategic places. Most are not visible when I'm clothed. All but one were done by my friend Madame Vyvyn Lazonga. For years now I've been wanting something akin to tribal markings on the backs of my hands, my wrists and the back of my lower arms. Until now I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted them to look like. What 'my tribe' is, I guess. I'd considered the ubiquitous Celtic designs. Vyvyn designed Celtic spirals for my inner left thigh. She put a vivid Kali yantra on my lower belly. As of tonight, I'm ready to get a California poppy design on my hands, wrists and arms. I'm not sure how adviseable it is to tattoo such delicate places that are so full of tiny bones and muscles and upon which we are so dependent for dexterity. I know Vyvyn has a light touch, though, so we shall see.